Following the European Union announcement regarding official guidelines prohibiting the funding of Israeli bodies and actions beyond the Green Line, it was reported in the Netherlands that at least two large retail chains in the country have stopped selling goods produced in Israeli settlements. A third chain assured its customers that the sources of its products are unrelated to the settlements.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded: "This boycott is tainted with hypocrisy and prejudice, and is only worsening the problem it purports to solve."
According to Dutch news website Trouw, the two chains that announced they will not be selling products originating in settlements are Aldi and Hoogvlit. The chains are particularly popular in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The third chain that makes a distinction between Israeli products is Jambo.
Aldi branch in Holland
In a research conducted by Trouw with several supermarkets in Holland, several Aldi and Hoogvlit representatives confirmed the ban. Aldi even demanded its suppliers to not supply products from the settlements anymore. The chain's spokesperson commented that Aldi is not interested in its products "being part of public discourse in any way."
Report on Dutch Trouw website
The report further added that Jambo is recently requiring its suppliers to submit a formal approval which states that delivered goods will label "Israel" so as to ensure they indeed come from "the State of Israel" and not the settlements. Jambo commented that it was decided to take this unusual step due to the raising of the subject in public debate. "Our customer deserves honest information," Jambo stated.
The Netherlands has long been preoccupied with the question of how large retail chains should act in the matter of products coming from the settlements. The issue dragged debates revolving around the need to have it emphasized on the packaging that the product comes from settlements, or alternatively have the chains remove products originating beyond the Green Line.
Hoogvliet, bans products from settlements (Photo: M.M.Minderhoud)
While three chains have already taken banning measures against products from the settlements, other retail chains await government decisions. Holland's largest retail chain Albert Heijn is holding consultations with the Dutch Food Retail Association (CBL), which is awaiting the decisions of Finance Minister and Foreign Minister. The ministers themselves are awaiting clarifications on the issue from the EU.
CBL spokesperson said in response that "the first time we encountered this issue was a year ago, and in the last letter sent two months ago we demanded urgent clarifications. The sooner we receive these clarifications, the better. We are not concerned as to what the solution will be, whether they decide on having labels clarifying the source or have us remove products from shelves, as long as we get clarifications."
Last March, the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed it received unofficial information regarding an official paper in the Netherlands, which recommends to importers and retail chains in the country to mark products coming from settlements. According to the report in Holland , the recommendation was issued on the Dutch Finance Ministry website, and was since remove.